The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Opinion

July 8, 2014

Our View: Who’s calling the shots?

— If Missouri Farmers Care really does care about the “Right to Farm” amendment on the Aug. 5 ballot, it sure has an odd way of showing it.

The farm advocacy group has voiced its objection to a planned debate on Wednesday that would pit state Rep. Bill Reiboldt, R-Neosho, chairman of the House Committee on Agriculture Policy, against Joe Maxwell, an officer of the Humane Society of the United States and a former Missouri lieutenant governor.

Reiboldt had agreed to the debate knowing full well that he would face Maxwell. Late last week, Missouri Farmers Care, the primary backer of Amendment 1, told Reiboldt it didn’t want him to proceed, specifically citing Maxwell’s presence there.

Since when does an advocacy group tell a state representative who he should and shouldn’t debate? Reiboldt sponsored the bill that got the proposed amendment on the ballot. As chairman of the House policy committee, he should have knowledge about whether Missouri actually needs this amendment, which has been challenged by some small farmers as just a nod to corporate farming.

We have not sided yet on Amendment 1 and thought Wednesday’s debate would be a good place to hear the pros and the cons of the issue.

We know there is no love lost between these two groups. In fact, Missouri Farmers Care calls the Humane Society of the United States an extremist group and accuses it of wanting to put animal agriculture out of business.

So wouldn’t that be all the more reason to show up at Wednesday’s debate? By the way, that event will still go forward at 1 p.m. in the criminal justice auditorium at Missouri Southern State University. Unfortunately, those looking for give and take won’t get but one side of the issue.

We think voters should be concerned about the influence Missouri Farmers Care has on a state legislator. After all, this group’s mission statement is “All Missourians will understand the truth about modern agriculture, food production and farm life and their connection to Missouri’s food security, economy and social well-being.”

If Missouri Farmers Care really cares about letting the public understand the truth, it will make sure someone shows up Wednesday to answer questions about Amendment 1.

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